Monday, June 13, 2005

Interview From Stephanie

Stephanie (click title above for link) had an interview on her blog and suggested that if anyone else wanted to be interviewed that she would do the same. I went for it. Here's the format:
1. leave me a comment saying "interview me"
2. I will respond by asking you five questions, selected for you.
3. you will update your weblog with the answers to the questions.
4. you will include this explanation and offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. when others comment asking to be interviewed you will ask them 5 questions.

So here are my questions from Stephanie:

1. What feminine characteristic of God do you see most clearly today?

Mystery. It has been hot and hazy down our way these past few days. When sun shines, earth steams. Pollen count is high. The river is covered with a yellow veil, carrying fertility downstream. When the clouds roll in, the air is heavy, pregnant with rain.
These are days in my life when I see through a glass darkly. I hold the miracle of baby Robbie in my arms. A mere four months ago we wondered if he would survive. Now he's triple his birth weight and healthy. I am blessed by his being in the world. Still, I cannot know his future. I live with uncertainty, as do we all. The endless shrouded mystery of birth and life and aging and dying.
My mother is failing once again. Her death may come today, or a week from now, or six months or six years. She reaches into the past for her parents and siblings, all of whom are long in heaven. My mother forgets this and wants to contact them. I wonder if they are calling to her from the other side, coming close to her as she lingers here. Such are the mysteries, the feminine face of God...the beginning and end stages of life, the unknown vastnesses of birth and death, which I, as women before me, patiently attend.
There is an anticipation that the heat wave will break with a tremendous exhibition of power: thunder, torrential rain, wind. God may be felt in earthquake, tornado and fire. But for the moment, my world is heavy with Mystery and I must content myself with waiting for revelation.

2. you have a depth of knowledge that amazes me. What lit the fire for you to accumulate this depth of understanding in life?

Suffering. The fact of suffering is not easily answered by fundamentalist theologies. My own infertility challenged the pat notion that if one is good and follows the rules, then God will respond by showering blessings in just the way we demand. It isn't true. Rain falls on the just and the unjust. Faith is accepting the reality of God in the midst of uncertainty, misfortune, and suffering.
So, I began a search for God which went beyond 'walking the aisle' and 'accepting Christ as my Saviour.' I had done these things as a young child. And God was calling on me to minister to others who had done the supposed 'right' things, and yet had experienced broken marriage, mental and terminal illnesses. People who were cut off from significant members of their families. Who were confused in sexual identity. Who were other. Who were lonely. Whose children became addicts, attempted suicide, ran away. People who had been sexually abused as children. Who had suffered the indignities and atrocities of war. People who were abused by the Church and handicapped by rigid and unproductive ideas about God. In order to walk with these people, I had to develop an understanding of God which which encompassed their present circumstance and suffering and offered hope. In doing this, I was led out of Law and towards a deeper understanding of Grace.
Suffering lit my fire to find a living, breathing God. A God Who Is Here and Now. In the suffering place. In the place of Joy. I read voraciously. I observed human nature. I watched and listened for God everywhere, and I still do.

3. What is different in your life since you took the Path at Linwood House last year?

Beauty. Permission, even vocation, to express Beauty. At Linwood House, I came out of the closet. Forget about Truth, for me, although I respect those who seek it and long for it. Give me sunsets not prooftexts. Give me crocuses not religious conventions. Give me Beauty.
Truth is Beauty, for me. Not of course, an original thought. But freeing. In the world I inhabit, where pain meets me in the faces of those I serve, it had always seemed a little self indulgent to love beautiful words, to admire beautiful things, to tremble at beautiful sights and sounds, to want to create beauty in a vase of flowers, on a canvas, in a poem. But I do, and always have, secretly, covertly. And yet Beauty is a transcendent aspect of God. It lifts us to the Eternal.
Once, I worked with a woman who had lost her twenty year old son in a horrific traffic accident. Her grief was profound and palpable. She was haunted by a vision of her son's crushed car being hauled away in a pile of other wrecks. As we worked with this traumatic image, I asked her to imagine her favourite flowers for a healing visualization. Her flowers were white roses. I asked her to begin to deck the destroyed cars with roses, one at a time, and then in their hundreds, until she had covered the wreck of her son's car with this beautiful tribute. She did this, and added a cross of flowers over the tailgate in her mind. She repeated this whenever the image came to haunt her, and slowly its horror lost its grip. In the spring she planted an all white memorial garden at her home to honour her son and to mark a step in her healing journey.
I thought, for several years, this intervention was a fluke, a sort of fleeting moment of inspiration, which just happened to work. But now I'm out, I see the truth of healing in Beauty, and how it is at the core of what I do.
Beauty can be present in hazy, humid weather. It can be part of the healing of great loss. It is not an accessory but a necessity. In the deep, safe Beauty of Linwood House I received encouragement to claim my love for Beauty and my intuitive sense that Beauty, in all it various forms can heal. I am called to be a lover and creator of Beauty in the world.

4. What challenges you most about blogging?

a) Technology. Without a doubt. My struggle with technology continues to hold me back. But I blog on anyway.
b) Staying true to myself. I tend to wander off topic sometimes in my comments. I try to be erudite. Clever. I sometimes speak in borrowed language (I do not mean plagiarize). I mean a voice not my own. I come from my head and not my heart...well, really in truth to myself, I want to come from both. At my worst, I try to be logical. In fact, I try too hard altogether. Being true to myself means letting love flow out and language come as it will, almost bypassing thought and effort.

5. If you could see one lie about women in the Body exchange for truth in your lifetime what would that be? (There may be many but is there one predominant one?)

Recognition of Prophetic Voice of Women. I think that the Body has generally accepted women when they have the gift of helps, tolerated them when they have the gift of teaching, and patronized them when they have the gift of prophesy. This is demeaning and a lie. Women's prophetic voices have validity, all the more because they express things differently from males in the Body. We need that difference.
Science has shown that the connectedness between left brain (intuition) and right brain (logic) is more fluid in women. Women cross back and forth between these aspects of thought with greater ease than men. I believe this gives women a special facility in speaking prophetically, and I believe that the Body would be greatly enriched by listening carefully rather than dismissing the voice of women. I believe God is calling young women and older women to speak out on issues of justice and righteousness, polity and politics. The woman as prophet is not without precedent biblically. I think her time has come in this twenty-first century and I hope I live to see this happen.

Thanks for the great questions, Stephanie.


anj said...

My, my, my...what beauty you reveal to us in this interview. Truly, you are blessed among women, I would love to be interviewed by you.

steph said...

This is amazing Connie, but amazing is what often comes from you.
I am intrigued by every answer you give but I am particularly drawn to each one for various reason.
I love how beauty has been released for you - permission granted so to speak. I am humbled when you speak of suffering being the place where the thirst for knowledge comes from. I love that mystery is a feminine part of God - never thought of it being feminine before. Mystery as a woman is something I want to embrace. Mystery being attached to death is a beautiful idea and i pray you will know the beauty at the time when your Mom passes from this life to the next. Recently I had a painfull moment as one spoke to another of being blessed because they had been "good". Bitterness was in my mouth as I thought of 40 years of being "good" and never once receiving the desires of my heart. Perhaps is isn't about being good but more about understanding grace and disillusion revealing reality.

Thank you Connie for this wonderful insight into your heart.

Connie said...

Okay Anj. It is a privilege to ask you these questions...too bad I can only give you five!!!

1. Your spiritual journey has taken you down many different paths until you find yourself living and worshipping as a Friend. What is the special fit between your spiritual essence and this way of being in the world?

2. You are a healer. I have seen your amazing, compassionate heart at work. How does your own illness, recently diagnosed, impact this ministry and how do you ask for healing for yourself?

3. As a mother and nurturer, what is the essential wisdom which guides you in this task? Is there one thing above all other you could give as advice to a young parent who is also young in faith?

4. What clutter have you cleaned out of your life in order to achieve the space to reflect, read and write as deeply as you do?

5. How has your understanding of the feminine face of God and your role in the revelation of that face changed since the Linwood House Path?

With anticipation,

friend said...

Wow what amazing answers and insight. Beautiful.

anj said...

Connie - Your answers were awesome, i had a feeling your questions would be the same.I am leaving for a four day contemplative retreat, and will work on my ansers while I am gone. I think they will be a very nice part of the weekend experience. You rock Connie!

Cindy said...

Connie--I've been sitting here reading your entire blog, start to finish, this evening and could read on into the night were there more written. Authenticity gracefully expressed and well peppered with gentle humor in all the right spots. I'm so glad you left a comment to follow back to your blog!

JP said...

What an amazing mind you have. Thank you for visiting my blog. I'm excited to learn more about you. Peace and Blessings

Lisa said...

Hi Connie - I'd be honoured to answer your interview questions. Maybe they would help me start blogging a bit more often!

Connie said...

Lisa's Five Easy Questions

Dear Lisa,
The title is ironic. I doubt that these questions are easy at all, but I
hope they interest you.

1. You have a keen social conscience, Lisa. Where does that come from in
your own personal story?

2. As a lawyer, many would see you as tough minded and quick thinking, but I
intuit that there is a deeply sensitive side to your nature, which at times
might cause you pain, or even confuse you. What do you learn from your
hidden woundedness? Or again, how does this aspect of self inform who you
are and how you work in the world?

3. Where do you find community at this point in your life? How does
relationship in faith community impact your own spiritual journey?

4. Who has been central in the development of your own personal theology and
what was it about that individual, (theologian, activist, writer, artist,
historical figure) which sparked your own growth?

5. How important is prayer to you? If it is important, what concern lies

Lisa said...

Wow! Easy, yeah, uh huh! Great questions!

I finally got my sharpie marker out last night and wrote enthusiastically. I couldn't stop grinning! And this morning, I am grinning in a different way. Any laundry tips on how to get indelible ink out of 400 count sheets?!?!?!?